April 26, 2011
Future is undetermined for downtown boosters
The DownTown Issaquah Association has come under much criticism for reviewing and rewriting the job description of its leading staff member, and then hiring a new employee.
It may be that DIA needs to go one step further.
Currently, DIA has a community relations director and an events coordinator. It’s questionable whether both are really needed.
An events coordinator to manage ArtWalk five Friday nights a year, a car show in June, a spring cleaning of downtown, and a few other promotional activities that bring shoppers to Front Street and nearby businesses may be all DIA needs to focus on in this trimmer economy.
The city of Issaquah foots the bill for some of DIA’s expenses, but why? Certainly DIA gets high marks for restoration of the historic gateway gas station, providing orange flags for safe crossings at crosswalks, and bringing back a town Christmas tree at Pedestrian Park.
But the community relations role may be redundant. Design guidelines for the business district have long been established by the city; the city’s economic development director is charged with resolving problems between landlords and city ordinances; the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce runs interference for its members, including DIA.
The DIA board of directors has bigger plans for more members, and particularly more residential members. It will need to prove it can be done while all eyes are on its future amid the fear of change. Without measurable gains, the board will need to think again, as should the City Council’s continued financial support of its historic business district.
We’d rather DIA be strong in one area than milquetoast in dual roles. DIA may need to learn to survive on its own membership dues to support an events manager.
Meanwhile, let’s give DIA leadership and its new staff a chance to prove itself.